Grey Highlands council won't sell piece of ballpark to neighbour

·2 min read

Grey Highlands council has denied a request from owners of a property in Maxwell to purchase municipal parkland to enlarge their lot.

In a tight 3-2 vote, council denied a long-standing request from Jessica and Nicholas Starecky to purchase a portion of the Maxwell baseball diamond in order to enlarge their lot. The original request came to council in 2020. The Starecky’s own a property that was once a church and the lot is small.

Coun. Paul Allen immediately questioned why council was proceeding with the sale of public property for a lot adjustment. Allen noted that the justification for the sale of the land is to bring the lot into conformity with zoning requirements. Allen pointed out that there are hundreds of smaller lots around the municipality that pre-date zoning in a similar situation.

“I don’t know why we’re worrying about this one property when there are hundreds and hundreds of them in the same situation,” said Allen. “I totally disagree with disposing of public parkland in Grey Highlands.”

Allen also questioned why council was proceeding down a path to sell public parkland when it is in lame duck status with the election looming. On the lame duck question, Clerk Raylen Martell said the resolution before council was to begin the severance process, but was not to actually dispose of the land.

Mayor Paul McQueen said there is merit in the request to enlarge the lot.

“On the north side, that building is close to the lot line. Having a small adjustment wouldn’t be unreasonable to anybody,” said McQueen. “That is a small parcel of land and an adjustment to the north side would make sense.”

Coun. Tom Allwood asked if it was possible for the Starecky’s to return with a request for a smaller piece of land should council decide to deny the current request.

“Could they still come back with a request for that piece of property the mayor has described in the future?” said Allwood.

Martell said the property owners are free to return to the municipality with a new request at any time.

A motion to deny the request was supported by councillors Allwood, Allen and Danielle Valiquette with McQueen and coun. Dane Nielsen opposed.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca